Carolina: Cruising Past 70

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Myriad Things You Can Do on Stone Island

Mazatlan has three small islands that adorn its lovely bay—Isla de Pajaros (Bird Island), Islade Vanados (Deer Island), and Isla de Lobos (Isle of Wolves). Each one is a little playground for water sports. Last year, we spent a day on Deer Island, just relaxing under a palapa, feasting on young coconut, taking precious photos, and partaking of the buffet arranged by our resort hotel. But there is another island that is much bigger and is actually a complete town. It competes with the city for tourists. It is called Isla de la Piedra or Stone Island. And there is a myriad of things to do there.

the beach as you face El Faro and the Playa Sur from where we took the ferry

Technically, it is not an island but a small peninsula jutting off the southern part of Mazatlan. Stone Island was born as an ejido in 1936, as a communal land for cooperative farming. Tomatoes and other vegetables were supposed to be the main produce. It was connected with the municipality of El Rosario through a small road, Huizache-Caimanero. Over the years, a road was built that connects it to the airport road. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the town via this route but I understand the road is not very good. A boat cooperative has cut the journey to about five minutes aboard pangas for just Mxn P30 from the Playa Sur Embarcadero on the road to the El Faro Lighthouse on the last stop of the Green Bus.

the famous Rock Islands, white with bird poop

Unfortunately, the lack of irrigation systems eventually ended the agricultural project. The townspeople turned to fishing as an alternative industry. Soon they also discovered that the island’s wonderful beaches with calmer and warmer water, owing to its protected location, would be a goldmine for tourists. Enterprising residents constructed ramadas, palapas or shelter. Today, there are about 50 such food establishments, four hotels, and about 8,000 residents.

the Lone Rock with the harbor seals

Our tour operator had an auriga (bigger than the pulmoniya ) pick us up from the hotel at 9 am. We were brought to the Playa Sur Embarcadero where a catamaran was waiting for us. For the previous two days, boats were banned from the waters because of a thunderstorm and strong winds but on our tour day, we were allowed to go. The kids on the boat enjoyed the ride so much because the waves were still quite high.

Our boat took us to the backside of Creston Hillthe one where El Faro, the tallest lighthouse in the world sits— near the famous Rock Islands, white because of bird poop, and the Lone Rock which houses a pod of seals. Then we were all dropped off at Stone Island. From the dock, all forty of us were ferried to the Playa Sur ramada via the three-carriage contraption pulled by a tractor.

horseback riding on the beach  where the large coconut grove can be found

And then the myriad things to do began, starting with ATVing, which was the main reason we wanted to go. We had such a ball doing this with our friends Carole and Allan…until our ATV stopped dead on its tracks almost at the end of where we were allowed to go. Our friends drove back to get someone to rescue us. In the meantime, I wrote our names on the golden beach, gazed at the wide stretches of sand at one direction running alongside the endless coconut grove, one of the largest in the world, and at the other, looking at the Rock Island Group and Old Mazatlan. There are miles and miles of the glorious beach.

a bright banana boar invites people

After the rescue, we went back to our shelter for the lunch of chicken, fish, salad, and frijoles, serenaded by loud mariachis and bandas. There were many things to do after lunch besides swimming and snorkelinghorseback riding, water sports like jet skis, banana boats, and kayaks, napping at hammocks, snacking on fresh oysters, shopping for local crafts like bags, jewelry, clothes, or colorful ceramic art, hiking the inner island or the coconut grove, playing volleyball or soccer, having a massage, playing with large but harmless iguanas and other normal vacation activities.

you can hold large harmless iguanas

But by 2:30 pm a horn tooted signifying that we would soon go back to the dock and by 4 pm we were indeed back at the Resort. It was a relaxing day because we didn’t try to do more of the myriad things to do. We merely enjoyed the whiff of fresher air in a small tropical paradise very close to the busy city of Mazatlan.

RVs camped on Stone Island

When a Home Away from Home is Even Better than Home

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